That’s Not What We’re Used To

Jen and I tend to watch a lot of reality television. Whether it’s Survivor or Tiny House Nation, we are all in. One of our favorite programs is HGTV’s House Hunters International. We especially like the episodes that take place in western Europe – we fantasize about moving there some day.

I’m especially fond of episodes that take place in southern Spain. The weather is always fabulous (at least it looks that way on television). Jen is more interested in being an ex-pat in the UK. There’s less risk when moving to a location without a language barrier.

Despite the fun we have watching and discussing possibilities, there is one thing that frustrates us — people who move to Europe expecting the same style accommodations they had in suburban Omaha, Houston, or Atlanta when they want to live in the city center of London, Paris, or Madrid. Apparently people think nothing of moving 5000 miles without doing research beforehand. If they did they’d know living spaces are smaller, and clothes washing machines could be in the kitchen.

Most irritating for us is when someone exclaims, “That’s not what we’re used to!”, or, “I didn’t think it would be this expensive here!” like they expected to be moving to a third-world country. Third-world countries aren’t all that cheap — you’d be surprised what housing costs in Namibia.

There’s one other possibility: These programs are heavily produced and edited. Despite what’s shown on television, there probably isn’t a lot of spontaneity. That could be why whenever a house only has one, small closet/armoire, one member of a couple will always claim ownership, smile wickedly, and say, “Where are you going to put your clothes?”

If we ever decide to take the plunge, we’ll pick a place that’s exciting for both of us. We’re doing our research, which includes sitting in front of the TV. We’ll know what we’re getting into, and won’t act like clueless Americans. Uh-huh, that’s what we say now…

War on Christmas

Sister Mary Agatha was an equal opportunity enforcer, so it came as no surprise when she rapped my knuckles for singing Frosty the Snowman more loudly than anyone else in my fifth grade class. I think I can trace my dislike of holiday music to that afternoon in 1956.

Christmas has become a parody of itself, and I don’t mean the fun kind. Stores have holiday decorations up before Halloween. That goddamned music plays incessantly in almost every commercial establishment as an inducement to buy more stuff; the economy depends on you going into debt even though you can’t afford to do so.

Then there’s the absurdity of the reason for the season. Historians, not blinded by religious ferver, have determined that even if the baby Jesus did exist, he was more likely born in July. Even more revolting are radical Christianists (just like radical Islamists only without the violence… yet) who demand that the employees of all of those commercial establishments say, “merry christmas!” to any and all, regardless of the personal preference of the speaker or recipient. Failure gets one labeled as an enemy combatant in the WAR ON CHRISTMAS

All that is to say even when I was the church lady, not too long ago, I didn’t like christmas very much. Christmas is boring, the same crap year-after-year. My birthday party as an eight-year-old was different than any party I would have been given when I turned sixty-eight. Yet christmas celebrations subject us to the same music, same advertising, same cultural expectations, and because time passes more quickly as we get older, it all happens more frequently, regardless what the calendar says. Adult Jesus must be weeping because we keep him in that fucking manger, and have been giving him myrh and frankincense each year for more than two millennia. What he really wants are the latest XBox and an iPad Pro.